2) Loving Speech

Loving speech means to communicate and discuss with pleasant speech.
There are three types of loving speech:

a. Comforting speech: We should communicate in a warm manner when
seeing one another. When we meet people who are sick, or suffering from
major disaster or live in fear, we should encourage and provide them
with psychological support. Even though we might not give them great
help through gentle speech and compassionate attitude, they will
appreciate our efforts.

b. Rejoicing speech: Every individual has his own strength. Even a bad
person might have his good aspects. Whenever there is good point, we
should rejoice, encourage and inspire him to do more, so as to
encourage him to do more good. For example, there was once a European
philosopher who was very ordinary initially, but with the encouragement
from his wife, he strove diligently and eventually became a well-known
philosopher. If we want to teach others, we should start praising them
in order to give them confidence in their strength and virtues. They
will not only be appreciative towards us but will soon be walking on
the path of goodness.

c. Inspiring speech: This helps others to progress one step ahead. For
example, for a person who is practising giving, we should guide him to
observe the precepts. We should not restrict the usage of our speech to
those of pleasant and gentle words. Sometimes we may have to use firm
and wrathful words to urge someone to progress. With a sincere attitude
and honesty, we will be accepted by others.

3) Beneficial Acts

Parents who look after and guide their children will have the respect
of their children. A teacher who cares and teaches his students
whole-heartedly will have the confidence of his students. A superior
who cares about the welfare of those who work under him will have the
support from them. Therefore, for those people that we would like to
teach and help, we should carry out actions that will benefit them so
that they will listen to our advice and follow our guidance willingly.

In Europe, there was an animal trainer who was with the tigers and
lions all the time. Some people asked him as why the animals did not
harm him. He replied by saying if the animals knew that he wouldn't
harm them, they would follow his instructions. If that is the response
from the animals, what about human beings? If one always perform
beneficial acts and consider the welfare of the others, the one who
benefitted will trust us, and follow our guidance.

4) Working Together

Working together is to share responsibilities, especially to share
hardships with friends and those who work under us. Even though our
individual ability is very minor, if we work together with others, they
will come to help us and follow us. If we want to advise others, we
should learn together with them, and do the same job with them. During
the war, there was a group of youths who formed a choir and drama
group. They went to villages to perform with the aim of encouraging the
villagers to support them in the war. They achieved a certain degree of
success but it was far short of their expectations. They analysed
various causes and found out that the reason for the shortcoming was
the vast discrepancy of the attitude to life between them and the
villagers. Because of the gap, they could not come to a consensus on
the war. This is reason why the Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva appear in
thirty-two different forms, in order to help and guide the uncountable
number of characters of sentient beings.

The Four All-Embracing Virtues discussed above are the basic means of
attracting and guiding others. They represent the principles of the
mundane world. When we apply these virtues in the spreading of Dharma,
we will achieve a better response. If we are practising Dharma and
guiding others but fail to lead more people into the Dharma, it is
probably because we have not perfected these Four All-Embracing
Virtues. If we can act according to the Four Virtues properly, it will
bring about an enormous effect. We should take up the responsibility of
a Buddhist lay person, and do our best to guide others towards the path
of Buddhahood, so that the luminosity of the Buddha will spread even
[Recorded by Ming Dao] (Translated by Mok Chung, edited by Ke Rong,
proofread by Shi Neng Rong. (6-7-96))

1. "Ju shi" means a secular Buddhist devotee which is translated here
as lay person. Literally, "lin" means forest and its meaning is further
explained in the main text.

2. Literally, "chong" means thicket. "Chong Lin "refers to a Buddhist
forest monastery.

Let Go of Your Sorrow

A reply to Mr. Gao Shi Xiong

From your letter, I am aware that in the past few years unfavorable
environments and homesickness have caused deterioration in your health.
This casts a cloud over your future. Fortunately, you have taken refuge
in the Triple Gem, and are approaching towards the brightness of the
Triple Gem. I believe that under the benevolence of the Triple Gem you
will soon be enlightened and consolated.

You mentioned the sufferings that you have been through and wished that
you may receive the brightness of the Buddha Dharma. This luminosity is
in fact pervading everywhere at all times. It is just waiting for you
to accept it. Please use your eyes of wisdom and see the brilliant hope
right in front of you! You should understand that these sufferings are
not the sorrow of an individual, the disastrous era is the result of
common karma.

In China and all over the world, there are many who have escaped from
the Iron Curtain and sought freedom. Thousands of them are like you,
scattered everywhere, facing many difficulties, separated from their
families, losing contact with their parents, and unable to go back to
their homes. They are drowning in sorrow and frustration. Both their
mind and physical body are seriously tortured. You are not the only one
who is suffering. Furthermore, are those still behind the Iron Curtain
living in a conducive environment? Can their families be together? Does
their health deteriorate due to excessive work and malnutrition? You
knew the situation very well, hence you chose to seek freedom. We are
suffering in this disastrous era that was created by our common karma
and we should not think of ourselves only.

The deterioration of physical health is the result of the unfavourable
environment and your anxiousness to see your family. You should not
worry about your health only. Instead, you should be concerned about
the grief that has arisen due to your unfavourable environment and
homesickness. If you keep on worrying about the unfavourable
environment and the unreachable home, you are in fact torturing
yourself more, and it will be impossible for your health to recover.
Your should consider, can your grief and worry help to change your
unfavourable environment and reunite your family? Of course it cannot.
And in actual fact it will only worsen your health. Therefore it is
useless for you to worry. By practising the teachings of the Buddha, we
should learn to look from a wider and higher perspective. By
understanding and developing faith in the Dharma, we should learn to
let go our worthless worries.

It is true that you are facing an unfavourable environment. However, if
you do not compare the satisfaction of the past with the
dissatisfaction of the present, you will not have so much sufferings!
Whatever is in the past has gone, including pleasure and happiness. It
is useless for us to cling to it. Clinging to the past (i.e. cravings),
is the defilement of all sentient beings. It brings alive past memories
and consequently increases our disappointment and grief. It diminishes
our effort to confront our difficulties and our enthusiasm to progress.

Why don't you think in this way: you have freed yourself from the Iron
Curtain. In comparison to those who are still behind the Iron Curtain,
you are much more fortunate. The homeless and wandering period of the
past few years is now over. You have arrived in a free country and
settled down with a good job. Your situation is much better than those
who are still wandering about as refugees and suffering from the stress
of unemployment.

Whatever we are facing now is the result of our past karma and
conditional causation. You should learn to feel at ease and find peace
under all circumstances. You should make an effort to improve the
situation gradually and cultivate more good merits. Poverty in living
can be overcome by simplicity. The insecure feelings of personal
relationship can be overcome by working hard and being modest. The
Buddha Dharma teaches us to live with less desire, to feel content with
whatever you have, and to live peacefully in accordance with conditions
around us.

There is a saying in the Sutra,

"Whatever treasure and wealth we accumulate,
they will disperse one day.
Whatever high status we struggle for,
it will be lost one day.
Whoever we love - families, relatives and friends,
they will leave us one day.
Whenever there is a birth,
there will be a death."

This is well known as the Four Impermanent Gathas. It can serve as a
ringing statement for your homesickness. You should know that there is
no family property that will never disperse, there is no family which
will never separate. It is just a matter of time. If one has planted
good karma in the past, it is possible to start a business from scratch
when the conditions are right. Otherwise, it may be difficult for
someone even to maintain the family property. Our worldly properties
can be snatched and possessed by five external factors, they are:
flood, fire, thieves, despots and prodigal sons. For those who are
still living behind the Iron Curtain, their properties are in fact
being confiscated by the Communists. Their experience could be worse
than what you have suffered now.

With regard to families, if the conditions are not fulfilled, even if
you live in your hometown, you will still experience the sufferings of
separation and death of family members. On the other hand, if the
conditions are right, there will always be a time for reunion. You are
now thinking day and night about your parents, your wife and your
children. Are you wondering how their lives are? Are they healthy? Are
they still alive? These worries bring you sleepless nights. As Buddha

"Whenever craving arises, suffering arises"

It is common to worry about one's family. However, in this disastrous
era, you should be independent and make an effort to plan for something
more beneficial. You should not immerse yourself in great grief only.
Your family would not be glad if they knew that you were so sick and
depressed because of your worries. When there is a family reunion, they
will be very upset and this will lead to more suffering in the future.
From now on, you should think more positively, and not worry too much.
Anxiety and worries can never solve your problems. You should let go of
your sorrows. This does not imply heartlessness, but it is to free
yourself from being deluded by the sentiment of love.

The main cause of your suffering is the attachment to the individual
family. The very first concept in learning the Dharma is to learn to
have a wider capacity for tolerance an d have less attachment to self.
Since all sentient beings are subject to continual rebirth, on and on
through beginningless and endless time, hundreds and millions of people
in this land can be your parents, wives, brothers and sisters from many
past lives. Why don't you direct your love to them? All the compatriots
who are still trapped behind the Iron Curtain can also be your parents,
wives, brothers and sisters from your many past lives, why don't you
worry and feel sad for them? It is because you are living under such a
narrow scope that causes so many sorrowful thoughts to arise in your
mind. This is not only of no benefit to the others, it also causes harm
to yourself. How silly this is! Don't you remember a saying of

"One ought to take care of one's own aged parents first and then to
extend the same care to other aged people in general;
One ought to take care of one's own young children first and then
extend the same care to other young people in general."

Buddhism extends this love to all sentient beings. This is the
initiation of loving kindness and compassion in Buddhism. It will help
you to extricate yourself from the attachment to individual love. The
remaining question is how can one be kind and caring to one's
compatriots? How can one help them? Please do not say that you do not
have any strength to do so! Everyone has certain strengths even though
it may differ from one to another. You should try your best. First of
all, you should fulfil your own responsibilities, then you may make use
of your responsibilities time and energy to contribute something
beneficial to the others and the country. No matter how little each and
every effort is, they are all invaluable meritorious acts. If everyone
can contribute a little, our efforts will accumulate and become a
strong power and finally be able to confront with any tyrannical and
evil deed. The suffering due to the common karma can only be changed by
group effort. This is the way to solve the problems lingering in your
mind. If you do not see things from this perspective and continue to
immerse yourself in deep grief everyday, your situation will never
change. If your health deteriorates because of this, even the Buddha
and Bodhisattva cannot help you. In Buddhism, we solve problems through
the understanding of the Law of Cause and Effect. This is different
from the fanatical religions that believe everything can be changed
unconditionally out of the will of a God.

The distracting thoughts of unfavorable environment and home-sickness
may be bothering you persistently and it is hard to get rid of them.
Buddhism teaches us to transform sentiment to wisdom. If you can be
determined, and contemplate thoroughly about the truth, these worthless
worries and grief will fade away and you will regain a healthy life.
During this process of transformation, there are two daily practices
that may assist you in transforming delusion to purity.

1. Making a frank confession of one's mistakes (s. desana) and
sincerely asking for pardon (s. ksana): Although this disastrous era is
the result of our common karma, it so happens that you were born at
this time. In certain ways, you may have a stronger feeling of grief
than the others, this is due to your individual past and present karma.
Your present suffering is the result of the ripening of this karma.
Therefore, you should make a frank confession of whatever unwholesome
karma you have done (s. desana) and sincerely ask for pardon (s. ksana)
before the Buddha and the Bodhisattvas every morning and night (If you
have no Buddha statue, try to visualize that the Buddha and
Bodhisattvas are around you). A sincere repentance and confession that
is full of faith, determination and sincerity, will strengthen your
will to progress towards a new life. You will be able to free your mind
from the old patterns of thinking and restlessness. When unwholesome
thoughts arise, you will be able to detect and discard them

2. Reciting the names of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas: Reciting the names
of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas with a pure mind can help you to discard
and stop the distracting thoughts. Your mind will be pure and peaceful.
You will not only free yourself from grief and worries, but you will
also sense the strong vibrations rippling throughout the Universe,
emanating from the ardent will, power and virtues of the Buddhas and
Bodhisattvas. When your mind is pure, you will sense the luminosity
around you and you will be filled with joy. Correspondingly, your
emotions and health will improve.

In conclusion, grief and anxiety arise from our ignorance and they are
unworthy. The aspiration to practise the teachings of the Buddha should
be to benefit all sentient beings who are in suffering. It should not
be constrained to the benefit of oneself only.

May the brightness of the Buddha Dharma be on you,

May you be filled with the joys of Buddha Dharma.

(Translated by Wai Sim Loh & Boon Wee Low, edited by Ke Rong, proofread
by Shi Neng Rong. (12-10-96))

From Relieving the Suffering of the Mind
to Relieving the Suffering of the Body

Dharma talk at Le Sheng Nursing Home

After I decided to come for a Dharma talk at Le Sheng Nursing Home, I
was unsure of what topic to talk about. Of course, the very first thing
that worried me was the suffering of everyone. In such an environment,
it is a rare fortune for anyone to come in contact with Buddhism! The
compassion of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas will not abandon you. The
Buddha and Bodhisattvas never abandon anyone, they always try to
encourage and care for all people. Unfortunately our minds are not
always receptive to the message of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas. This
world is full of suffering, and the Dharma is a consolation for us. Its
luminosity brings us support, encouragement and hope that we may always
rely on.

The Buddha told us, "Human life is suffering". We all need to
understand and recognize the meaning of this. The Buddha also said,
"The human body is an illness, a carbuncle, and an ulcer, and this is
what we all experience." We all experience the conditions of sickness
and suffering. But all human and sentient beings cannot avoid illness
and suffering. The only differences are less suffering, or more
suffering, less sickness, or more sickness!

If we can reduce our suffering, then of course, we will feel much
better. Please try not to compare yourselves with others, hoping for
happiness without suffering, and health without sickness. This will
only increase your unnecessary suffering. You must understand that all
beings in this world are not able to avoid suffering. We always have
some problems. The only way to solve these problems is by accepting
them, and letting them go. This is the only way of going beyond life
and death, and towards a state without suffering and illness!

The Two Types of Suffering

There are two types of suffering: suffering of the physical body, and
suffering of the mind. Physical suffering may include a lack of basic
necessities, or natural disasters, or injury to the body from weapons,
diseases, burns, abuse, or poisons. We all experience this bodily pain
no matter what our status is in life. Such suffering can be reduced by
co-operation and improvement of our physical situation, such as, for
example, an improvement of medical technology. Although the cure may
not be ultimate, it provides a certain degree of relief.

The mental suffering of our mind can be caused by many things,
including disappointment, hatred, frustration, fear, anger, and
loneliness. Everybody experiences this suffering differently. Some, for
example, while watching the moon, feel wonderful and peaceful. At the
same time, others may feel terrible, lonely, or sorrowful. Another
example is the mental anguish caused by an illness. Some feel sad and
terribly frightened. However others do not feel this depression, and
may never feel mentally downcast, even though suffering from the same
illness, and the same physical pain.